Kirsty Gilmour flew the Scottish flag all the way to the women’s singles semi-finals of the Victor Denmark Open after a string of superb performances in Odense.
The 28-year-old had come through a number of deciders en route to the last four and pushed her South Korean opponent An Seyoung all the way before going down 13-21, 21-12, 16-21.
An took the lead early on in the first game with Gilmour forcing her way back to parity on multiple occasions, but with the pair locked at nine points apiece, An pulled away to win the game with an eight-point margin.
Bellshill-born Gilmour responded perfectly in the second game, taking control of the game at 3-2 by winning six straight points as she forced a decider.
It wasn’t to be in the final game as An raced into a 6-1 lead with Gilmour trying valiantly to get back on level terms, winning four straight points when An had match point before the South Korean held her nerve to win 21-16 and advance to the final.
“I have lots of mixed emotions,” Gilmour said. “It was a tough loss to take but I’m happy that I’m dissatisfied with losing matches like that now.
“In the past, I would have been like ‘oh, you know, she’s top 10’. But now I fully believe I’m capable of winning matches like that and being in the top 10.”
Gilmour had reached the final after three tricky matches, firstly overcoming last week’s Dutch Open winner Kristin Kuuba of Estonia 21-11, 21-15.
The world number 25 then played out a thriller against Kim Gaeun of South Korea, coming through 21-18, 20-22, 26-24 in over an hour to advance to the quarter-finals.
Taking on Clara Azurmendi of Spain in the last eight, Gilmour went 21-15 ahead before Azurmendi, ranked 56 in the world, fought back 21-18 with Gilmour eventually coming through 21-11 in the third.
“I played some really good badminton this week,” she added. “I’m happy with the choices I’m making on court and my ability to withstand pressure.
“It’s the first time a singles player from Scotland has ever got to the semi-final of a tournament at this level so I have to look at the positives, which I am.
“To come so close and know I had a little bit more in me is a nice place to be and makes me fired up for the coming week.”
Elsewhere in Odense, Alexander Dunn and Adam Hall advanced to the second round of the men’s doubles after beating French pair Lucas Corvee and Ronan Labar in straight sets.
Hall and Dunn won both games 21-14 and in the first, they never relinquished their lead once they took it.
In the second game, they were made to work more by Corvee and Labar before winning six points in a row to open up a healthy lead and march on to the second round for Dunn’s first win at a World Tour Super 1000 event.
They then came up against Malaysia’s Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi who defeated Hall and Dunn 21-17, 21-11.
Hall was also in action alongside Julie MacPherson in the mixed doubles, where they took on Rodion Alimov and Alina Davletova.
The Russian pair defeated MacPherson and Hall 21-18 and 21-17, ending MacPherson’s involvement in the tournament as she had previously been knocked out of the women’s doubles with Ciara Torrance.
They came up against third seeds Kim Soyeong and Kong Heeyoung who won 21-8, 21-12, with the South Koreans winning nine points in a row in the first game on the way to defeating the youngsters.
“I’m so happy we have players at this level of tournament, it’s testament to how we’ve been building the quality of the team over the years,” Gilmour added.
“I’ve spent two, three, four years doing these tournaments by myself without a Scottish compatriot and now we have a handful.
“It’s really exciting to have a team at these events now and it makes the whole experience feel more professional.
“The performances have been great. The girls [MacPherson and Torrance] learned loads from playing Kim and Kong and we’re all constantly learning.
“They are just at the start of their Super Series journey and I’m super happy they’re coming along for it.”
Gilmour, Hall and Dunn will be back in action next week at the YONEX French Open in Paris, a tournament the former always enjoys.
“I played seven years of French club [badminton] so I feel very at home there,” she said.
“The stadium is perfect, it’s quite a small arena and spectators seats go up rather than out the way. It’s pretty cool, quite intimate.
“I’ll take my confidence from this week into it and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Full tournament results: https://www.tournamentsoftware.com/sport/tournament?id=AE1C21D1-1201-498C-A539-23667E7DC959
Photo credit: BadmintonPhoto